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Political Skill at Work and in Careers  

Iris Kranefeld, Gerhard Blickle, and James Meurs

Organizations are political environments, and, thus, individuals engage in political behavior in the workplace. As research on organizational politics grew, it became clear that some individuals are more successful at managing this landscape than others. This construct, termed political skill, was designed to capture the social savvy and competencies an individual needs to effectively achieve organizational and/or personal goals. Political skill comprises four key facets: first, social astuteness refers to the ability to understand others and social situations at work. Second, interpersonal influence comprises the capacity to persuasively communicate with others at work. Third, networking ability captures building, fostering, and using interpersonal relationships and connections to achieve work-related goals. Fourth, apparent sincerity entails conveying authenticity while influencing others at work. The composite construct and its facets are measured with the political skill inventory, which has been extensively validated across many countries and cultures. Political skill positively associates with workplace and career outcomes such as job performance, job satisfaction, career advancement, stress management, leadership effectiveness, and team performance. It also serves as moderating variable, bolstering (or buffering) effects of individual or job characteristics on those same outcomes. Even though more research is needed that specifies mediating processes and moderating conditions, political skill is already a useful tool for personnel selection. However, a comprehensive training program has yet to be developed. Moreover, political skill can play a critical role in new forms of interaction via social media.